31 May 2016

Think Tank: Sea, air and land updates (31-May-2016)

Zumwalt class Destroyer
(Image: Flickr User - Official U.S. Navy Page)
Ashleigh Sharp and Lachlan Wilson

Sea State

Take a step into the future and have a quick look at the US Navy’s new railgun, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal. Using electromagnetic rails, the high-powered weapon fires an 11kg projectile at Mach 6, which can penetrate through seven steel plates leaving a 5-inch hole. Currently, the only class of Navy ship with the electrical energy required to fire a railgun is the US Navy’s new Zumwalt-class destroyer. For those wanting to learn more about the ship, USNI News recently published an in-depth feature on the challenges and opportunities of the Zumwalt.

With a new generation of long-range missiles—like China’s DF-21Carrier Killer’—potentially spelling the end of the US’s aircraft carriers’ time on the front line and capability concerns regarding the readiness of the USN’s strike fighter squadrons, things are looking a bit tough for the US Navy. But it doesn’t stop there—the USN is undertaking a complex prioritisation of its operations and maintenance schedules due to a mid-year review of funding that discovered an US$848 million shortfall.

In a fresh Natuna Islands incident, last Friday the Indonesian Navy arrested a Chinese fishing vessel, the Gui Bei Yu 27088, and its eight crew members for illegally fishing inside Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone. The Indonesian Navy fired shots at the trawler when it refused to stop illegally fishing, with the assertive action ‘made to show the world that Indonesia will take firm action against ships that violate our territory,’ according to Western fleet command spokesman Maj Budi Amin. It’s the second significant engagement in the South China Sea between Indonesia and China this year, with the events working to elevate tensions between the two countries.

AUS: Mammoth Milestone for KC-30A in Operation OKRA

A RAAF KC-30A refuels a RAAF E-7A via the Boom system
A staggering 50 million pounds of fuel has been offloaded by the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) deployed for Operation OKRA.

That figure equates to 22,679 tonnes of fuel, or more than 28 million litres, offloaded for RAAF and Coalition aircraft in the Middle East Region since September 2014.

Flying as part of Air Task Group (ATG) 630 for Operation OKRA, the KC-30A reached the milestone figure on April 27 during a sortie with a pair of RAAF F/A-18 Hornets.

As of May 2016, the ATG630 Air Mobility Element has conducted 631 sorties with the KC-30A, and flown more than 5,000 hours.

Commander of ATG630, Air Commodore Antony Martin, said the KC-30A MRTT was an essential enabler for Operation OKRA missions.

USA: Teamwork, training key to USNS Mercy MEDEVAC of South Korean sailor

By MC1 Elizabeth Merriam, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs

An MH-60S Seahawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 performs a medical evacuation of a sailor from Republic of Korea Submarine SSK Lee Eok Gi (SS 071) to hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). (U.S. Navy/MC1 Elizabeth Merriman) >>

PACIFIC OCEAN - The hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) conducted a medical evacuation May 27 to assist a Republic of Korea sailor in need of medical attention. Pacific Partnership 2016 Mission Commander, Capt. Tom Williams, praised the work of the entire mission team to complete the MEDEVAC successfully.

“I appreciate the flexibility and teamwork of the [Military Sealift Command] crew who worked hard this morning to get us in position, as well as our HSC 21 teammates who went out and conducted the personnel transfer with professionalism and safety,” said Williams.

Embarked Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 launched an MH-60S helicopter from Mercy to recover the sailor and returned him to the hospital ship. Crew members facing the challenge of airlifting the sailor from the surfaced submarine relied on training and past experience to find the right procedure to transport him safely.

News Story: China risks 'Great Wall of self-isolation' - Pentagon chief

Fiery Cross Reef (Sep 2015)
China risks creating a "Great Wall of self-isolation" through its continued military expansion in the South China Sea and its hacks on US companies, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said Friday.

Carter's remarks came ahead of his trip next week to an Asian security summit in Singapore, where China's actions in the contested waterway will likely dominate discussions.

"China's actions could erect a Great Wall of self-isolation," Carter told graduating officers at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

"Countries across the region -- allies, partners, and the unaligned -- are voicing concerns publicly and privately at the highest levels."

China has in recent years dredged reefs, islets and other maritime features and built these up into larger islands capable of sustaining a military presence.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Uganda angered at claim of halt to N.Korea military ties

Uganda hit back Sunday at South Korea's claim that Kampala had ordered a halt to military ties with North Korea in line with UN sanctions, denying it had made such an announcement.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye's spokesman had earlier Sunday told reporters that Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni had ordered officials to honour the latest sanctions during a summit in Kampala.

Spokesman Jung Yeon-Guk quoted Museveni as saying: "We instructed officials to faithfully enforce the UN Security Council resolutions, including the halt of cooperation with North Korea in the security, military and police sectors."

But Ugandan authorities responded swiftly, saying there had been no "public declaration" to this effect.

"That is not true. It is propaganda," deputy government spokesman Shaban Bantariza told AFP.

"Even if (such an order) was to be made by the president, it cannot be public. It cannot be therefore true and it can't happen. That is international politics at play," he added.

Dozens of North Korean military and police officials are believed to be working in Uganda as military trainers under a cooperation programme.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Chinese navy ships in Tanzania share counter-piracy experience

Chinese Warships (File Photo)
ARUSHA, Tanzania, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Three Chinese navy ships on Monday docked at Tanzania's Dar es Salaam Port for a four-day visit, aimed at sharing experience with their Tanzanian counterparts in how to curb piracy in the Indian Ocean.

A welcome ceremony was held at the port, attended by Chinese diplomats and Tanzanian Navy officials.

Speaking soon after receiving the Chinese navy, the Major General of the Tanzania People's Defence Force, Simon Mumwi, praised the relations between Tanzania and China, which dates back to 1960s.

He described China as a true partner as it has been at the forefront in supporting Tanzania in different areas, including security.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Australian warship visits southern Vietnam

HMAS ANZAC in Sydney Harbour (File Photo)
HO CHI MINH CITY, May 30 (Xinhua) -- A Royal Australian Navy warship, HMAS Anzac, with a crew of 215 officers and sailors on board, arrived here Monday, kicking off its four-day goodwill visit.

The ship and its crew were welcomed by representatives from the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, the Military Region 7, and the Navy High Command, along with those from the Australian Consulate General in the city, Vietnam News Agency reported.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: War not a solution between India, Pakistan, says Islamabad's envoy

NEW DELHI, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan's envoy to India Abdul Basit on Monday said that war is not a solution between the two countries and bilateral issues can be resolved only through talks.

"Only foolish people would consider war as a solution to the problems. Five months have passed since Pathankot (attack) but the dialogue process between India and Pakistan has not resumed," he told the media in the national capital.

"We hope that the dialogue process will resume, because all our issues can be resolved through talks."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Philippine gov't holds talks with MILF in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government ended a two-day meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest Muslim rebel group, here on Monday, Malaysian media reported.

The two parties signed the Declaration of Continuity of the Partnership in the Bangsamoro Peace Process that seeks to ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the next administration, reported Malaysia's state news agency Bernama, quoting a joint statement.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Uganda calls for peaceful resolution of South China Sea dispute

KAMPALA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Uganda has called for the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute through negotiations, honoring bilateral agreements and regional efforts.

Henry Okello Oryem, Uganda's minister of state for foreign affairs told Xinhua in an interview that although Uganda and Africa are far away from the disputed area, they have keen interest.

He said the parties involved in the dispute should not allow it to escalate.

Read the full story at Xinhua